Birmingham on frontline of fight to save Brazilian primate

By on 21/06/2011 in News

Birmingham Nature Centre is at the forefront of the fight to save one of the world’s most endangered primate species from extinction.

The Brazilian Government has invited the Pershore Road centre to participate in the Golden Lion Tamarin and the Golden Headed Lion Tamarin breeding programmes.

Keepers recently welcomed three females – Nala and her two daughters Santo and Akasha – from Colchester Zoo. The trio will be joined by a male once European coordinator of the breeding programme Dr Peter Galbusera is satisfied this species has settled in well at Birmingham.

Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture Cllr Martin Mullaney said: “It's a real honour for Birmingham Nature Centre to play a part in this breeding programme and hopefully we can help safeguard the Golden Headed Lion Tamarin for generations to come.

“For the Brazilian government to launch this programme gives a clear indication of the urgency of the situation and we're determined to help this species avoid extinction.

“In just a few short weeks, the three tamarins have become firm favourites with visitors to the Nature Centre.”

Golden Lion Tamarins are native to the tropical rainforests of Brazil where about 90 per cent of their original forest habitat has been cut down.

Of the 1,000 left in the wild, most live in a small patch of rainforests near Rio de Janeiro, while there are approximately 160 in captivity as part of the European breeding programme.

Birmingham Nature Centre is also working with the Brazilian Government to help save the rarest of all the lion tamarins, the Black Faced Lion Tamarin.

The species is now being monitored in the wild using radio transmitter technology and staff in Birmingham are providing help and guidance for students engaged in the project.

ENDS

Notes to editors

Nature Centre manager Les Basford is available for interview.

Photographs are available to download from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/birminghamnewsroom/sets/72157627012449076/

Located on Pershore Road, two miles south of Birmingham City Centre, the Birmingham Nature Centre homes a wide range of animals, both European and from across the world. The centre has a wide collection of endangered reptiles, and it plays an important role in international breeding programmes for them.

Before being accepted to take part in the breeding programme, Birmingham Nature Centre had to be assessed by Zoological Society of London Director David Field. After visiting the facilities, he wrote: “The Nature Centre is a real credit to all involved and will be a valuable member of the British Zoo Association and European Zoo Association. I look forward to continuing to work closely with Les Basford and the team in the future. It is great to have partners in our zoo  mission like the Birmingham Nature Centre – and as someone from the West Midlands it makes me very proud.”

For more information contact Geoff Coleman on 0121 303 3501

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